Nov. 17, 2014
What do snowshoeing, caring and snack challenges have in common? They are all part of the Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) program at Mayland Heights School. Introduced six years ago, the program encourages staff and students to be fit for life while creating positive social environments where everyone feels welcome, accepted and good about themselves.
It’s a program the school lives every day, no exceptions. Each morning starts with a 15-minute “spark” in every class that includes physical activities to get brains and bodies moving. When students bring snacks for recess to school, they are asked to match them to the four food groups. Those that can categorize foods correctly score stickers.
Even during school assemblies, students are on the move. Assemblies include “energizers” where Grade 5 and 6 students lead the entire school in dance. This year the school chose Taio Cruz’s dance favorite “Dynamite” for their theme song. When the song is belted out during the assembly, everyone dances.
To encourage kindness and respect in the classroom, the entire school read Have You Filled a Bucket Today? This award-winning book encourages positive behavior as children learn how easy it is to kind. If, for example, a student picks up a forgotten backpack and brings it into the classroom, they are filling someone else’s bucket. These acts of kindness are celebrated and recognized through daily announcements.
To support HEAL, the school’s parent council has invested in the University of Calgary’s Be Fit for Life program. This outreach program brings numerous physical challenges and activities to the school. From snowshoeing for kids to boot camps and yoga classes for staff, healthy activities are offered and encouraged. Even when the weather is cold, students learn that they can shovel snow, make a snowman or take their dog or favourite stuffed animal for a walk.
This approach to whole school wellness has made a big difference. Teachers and students say Mayland Heights School is a place people want to come to, because they feel accepted, cared for and welcome. Dynamite!